During the tumultuous decade of the 1970s, Ron LeFlore went from the back of a patrol car to prison to patrolling the outfield for the Detroit Tigers in just over four years. It’s an astonishing tale of personal redemption through professional sports—and a stark contrast to the pro-sports-to-prison arc seen repeatedly today.
The made-for-TV movie of LeFlore’s life was called One in a Million, and while that figure isn’t accurate when viewed through a few disparate lenses, his story was extremely rare when it happened—and, arguably, could not possibly happen today. Even a film based on his life would be subject to backlash for being a “white savior” story, if it were produced at all. But LeFlore himself is quick to credit and thank the men responsible for his baseball career.
One in a Million: The Ron LeFlore Story starring a young LeVar Burton first aired on CBS in September of 1978, and it will be shown Sunday at the Detroit Historical Museum, 45 years to the month after LeFlore made his major-league baseball debut.